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For the last couple of years I have been “cheating” on my main hotel programs a little bit with the younger Club Carlson program. In 2012 they were handing out lots of points via huge promotions like they were candy on Halloween, and I had my points Trick or Treat bag ready. Then they introduced their co-branded credit card, the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature, and I jumped on that opportunity as well. Not only did the credit card give us another 85,000 points after hitting the spending requirement, but it also introduced one of my very favorite credit card perks – the last award night free. For better or worse many of our trips are short, so that means we essentially get a “Buy One Get One” free benefit on two night Club Carlson award stays.
Club Carlson states they have no black-out dates for standard room availability:
So, hundreds of thousands of easy points, a lucrative credit card sign-up offer, last award night free benefit, and more. Sounds too good to be true, right? Club Carlson has a policy similar to brands like Hyatt and Starwood where if a standard room is available for sale, it should be available to book with points. Most of the time this isn’t a problem, however I have seen a few popular properties that will have a standard room for sale, but yet they do not have a standard room available for a points redemption. Obviously programs can set whatever rules they want, but if you say no blackout dates, then you better mean it.
The terms go on to explain that additional room types (non-standard) may be available as award stays on a limited basis, but vary by hotel, are subject to availability and additional terms and restrictions, including blackout dates may apply. So, a property is following the rules even if non-standard rooms are for sale but not points redemptions, but not if standard rooms are available for sale but not bookable with points.
Not all properties seem to embrace the no-blackout dates policy:
One popular common offender is the Radisson Martinique on Broadway that is in New York City and goes for 50,000 points per night for a standard room. You have to look at their website to see how they define standard rooms, and then see what room types they are selling when the website says there is no standard room availability. Their non-standard rooms are Executive Rooms, Martinique Club Level, Executive Suites, and Penthouse Suites. Standard rooms may have two double beds, a queen bed, or a king bed. I see many dates where a standard room appears to be available for sale, and yet there is no points availability.
This property has had this issue before, but recently had gotten better, only to now appear to have returned to showing no points availability on many dates. I randomly picked October 16th as an example date. The hotel shows no points availability, but is selling a classic guest room for $335.75.
They are also offering basic rooms with double beds, a queen bed, or a king bed on cash and points redemptions for 15,000 points + $275.45 each. Given all of that, it doesn’t appear that the hotel is out of standard rooms that night, they just aren’t offering rooms for 50,000 points. It could be due to a computer glitch. It could be due to human error. Or, it could be due to a strategic decision that they can make more money if they fudge the points availability. I don’t know which one is the case, but regardless of the cause, the solution is the same.
What to do if you have trouble booking a property that has standard rooms for sale:
If this situation happens to you at either this hotel or another property, just reach out to the property directly via phone or email for assistance. The email address is often located on their individual property website under their “contact us” tab. If I had to contact them, I would say I am trying to redeem points on October 16th and even though there are standard rooms for sale, the computer isn’t letting me book with points. I would then politely ask for their help in making the reservation. I just did this via email with a Club Carlson property in Paris and they responded and opened up the room within 24 hours. I was then able to book online without a problem. I have read many successful reports of the same type of interaction with this New York property.
I do not think it is acceptable for this to be an ongoing problem as most of the traveling public will assume that the computer showing no availability means there is no availability. This is the sort of nonsense that makes people think that “points are worthless”. However, I can’t force Club Carlson or these properties to fix whatever the problem is, but I can inform you all on how to work around the issue in the meantime. If you don’t have success with the individual property, then you can also reach out to the Club Carlson program itself for assistance, though I think most of the time working with the property will do the trick.
I really like the way the Club Carlson program works, so I want them to tie up all these loose ends and continue to be one of the most lucrative programs out there. That said, I wouldn’t recommend sitting on all the points you might have racked up in 2012. I would work on putting those points to good use just as my family has been doing.
Have you experienced availability issues with Club Carlson? Were you able to work with the property as I did to use your points?
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